"New American Plate" Idea Helps You Eat Healthier
HOUSTON – What did your dinner plate look like last night or the night before? Was it heaping full of meatloaf and mashed potatoes? Was there any room for vegetables? Did you stop when you were full or keep eating because it tasted so good?
Now, these are questions we all could ask ourselves. The answers might help us realize that our eating habits could be improved.
Furthermore, this need for a change is clear as the rates of obesity continue to rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 68 percent of people in the United States are overweight or obese. Obesity is not the only problem; chronic disease such as diabetes is also on the rise. A shocking 26.8 million people in the United States are diagnosed with this disease.
However, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has developed an easy way to help people eat a more healthy diet and decrease their risk for cancer and other chronic diseases. It is called the “New American Plate.”
The main focus of the “New American Plate” is portions and proportions. This simply means that the amount of fruits and vegetables on your plate should be greater than the amount of meat, and portion sizes of all food should be watched.
Moreover, the goal is to aim for meals consisting of two-thirds (or more) vegetables, fruits, whole grains, or beans and one-third (or less) animal protein.
This new approach is not a diet, but rather a method to control weight, reduce risk of cancer, and live a healthier life. The AICR has found that eating a mostly plant-based diet, as recommended by the “New American Plate” guidelines, will decrease cancer risk and promote weight loss. Furthermore, maintaining a healthy weight is not only helpful to reduce your risk of cancer, but also to reduce the risk of other chronic disease.
Researchers estimate about one-third of the most common cancers could be prevented by eating a healthier diet, being physically active, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Adding more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet may be a challenge at first, especially if you are not used to eating these types of foods. To make it easier, there are countless books and websites with tasty recipes and meal planning tips to help you meet these guidelines. The AICR has developed a cookbook and posted recipes on their website, www.aicr.org *.
In addition, the Department of Agriculture has a “My Pyramid Tracker” at www.mypyramidtracker.gov to help track the calorie content of foods you are eating. This is an online dietary and physical activity assessment tool providing information on your diet quality, physical activity status, and related nutrition and physical activity facts.
Making small changes can equal big results that will improve your health and quality of life.